Low on offensive flow? Why Dodgers should be concerned about hitting in NLCS Game 7
The Dodgers have seen offensive momentum flow from one game to the next this postseason.
They managed one run and six hits in the first 15 innings of the National League Championship Series before breaking out with seven runs and eight hits, including two homers, in the final three innings of an 8-7 Game 2 loss to the Braves.
But momentum can go both ways, which is why the Dodgers should be somewhat concerned about their hitters entering a winner-take-all Game 7 on Sunday night.
Corey Seager and Justin Turner homered, and Dodgers starter Walker Buehler and three relievers shut down the Atlanta Braves in a 3-1 win in Game 6.
Five of their first six batters in Saturday’s 3-1 Game 6 win reached base, with Corey Seager and Justin Turner hitting solo homers off Atlanta starter Max Fried. Max Muncy drew a walk, Will Smith hit a single and Cody Bellinger hit an RBI single for a 3-0 lead.
But the Dodgers managed only five singles off Fried and relievers Darren O’Day and Chris Martin the rest of the game. They went 0 for 15 with runners on base from the end of the first inning through the eighth. They went one for six with runners in scoring position.
Fried, the Atlanta left-hander, recovered from the rocky start to go 6 2/3 innings, throwing a career-high 109 pitches while limiting the Dodgers to three runs and eight hits, striking out five and walking four.
“Seager hit the homer on a curveball, but after the first inning he settled in,” Turner said of Fried. “He threw a lot of off-speed pitches and did a pretty good job of keeping us on the ground.
Key plays from the Dodgers’ 3-1 win over the Atlanta Braves in Game 6 of the NLCS.
“If we’re nitpicking, maybe we do a little bit better of a job adjusting in the middle of the game and trying to hit some of those breaking balls the other way instead of pull-side groundballs. But we did what we have to do to force a Game 7.”
A loss and a save
Fried was probably one hit away from being pulled in the first. Reliever Jacob Webb was warming up when AJ Pollock flied to center and Kiké Hernández popped to shortstop to end an inning in which Fried threw 24 pitches.
But Fried not only rebounded from a wobbly first, he pitched all the way into the seventh, an effort that took some of the sting out of the loss. The Braves needed only four outs from their bullpen, and all of their front-line relievers will be fresh for Game 7.
“We said going in, Max needed to stretch the game for us,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “A lot of those conversations are good in the morning and then when the game starts, you’re not going to just let somebody hang themselves.
“It was a little fluffy in the first inning. Then he regrouped, settled in and got us to the seventh. … He was locked in. He probably could have thrown 200 pitches once he got into his rhythm.”
The admittedly old-school Snitker, who turned 65 on Saturday and has spent more than four decades in professional baseball, was not overly impressed by Fried’s 109 pitches.
“That career-high isn’t a lot of pitches,” Snitker said. “I just talked to him and said, ‘I’m blown away that that’s your career-high. A career-high ought to be 140, not 107 or 108. In the industry, bells and whistles go off at 100 pitches now.”
A baserunning gaffe by Atlanta’s Ozzie Albies helped Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler avoid trouble in the sixth.
With one out, Albies dribbled a ball down the first-base line. Muncy charged and fielded the ball, which popped out of his glove as he swiped a tag on Albies.
But Albies, thinking he was tagged out, pulled up beyond first without touching the bag. Buehler retrieved the ball and tagged Albies for the second out.
Dansby Swanson followed with a single, stole second and took third on catcher Austin Barnes’ throwing error, but Buehler struck out Austin Riley to end the inning.
“That was an odd one,” Buehler said. “I went after him because I didn’t know if he touched the base or not. I just picked it up and tagged the guy. I haven’t seen that one before.”
Dodgers right-hander Pedro Báez retired the side in order in the eighth, in part because of a gutsy 87-mph full-count changeup he threw on the ninth pitch of an at-bat to Travis d’Arnaud, who swung and missed for the first out. … Dodgers utility man Chris Taylor did not play after suffering a right-ankle injury in the eighth inning Friday night, but the injury does not appear as severe as feared. Roberts said Taylor “might have heard something pop” after the game, but Taylor was “moving around much better” Saturday, and doctors determined an MRI test was not necessary.
DiGiovanna reported from Los Angeles
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